Marketing and Gender Roles
Marketers often make generalizations about groups of people in order to efficiently createÂ effective advertising. Yet, in an age that strives to promote equality between males and females, the line is blurred as to whether it is appropriate to make gender generalizations. For instance, it is not uncommon for minivans to be marketed exclusively to women, while sports cars are marketed primarily to men. Is this sexist, or a demographic reality that more men purchase sports cars than women? It is also no coincidence that commercials for cleaning products are most often targeting at female consumers. Is this fair? There are men who do their fair share of household chores. While a lot of folks would agree it is not fair that men and women are portrayed this way, for the marketer, it makes perfect sense.
The gender being targeted in an advertisement does not make an advertisement sexist by nature. Marketers need to have a sense of their largest target audience’s characteristics in order to be successful. It is no coincidence that there are more women then men in laundry detergent commercials. Although it might not be true that every woman on the planet is buying laundry detergent, the fact is that a large chunk of women do buy it for their households. The higher the percentage of women than men using a product, the more likely the product will be marketed to women rather than men.
According to Rodney Moore in the articleÂ “He Said, She Said: Marketing to the Sexes” (Dynamic Graphics Magazine 2008), the retailer TJ Maxx found success focusing their advertising on the thrill women get from finding a great deal. While men may appreciate finding good deals, for TJ Maxx, more women shop in their stores than men do. The same strategy could be applied to marketing for a store that men visit more than women.
Marketers do need to avoid over-generalizations that could be perceived as sexist. Even if there are individuals who fit theÂ stereotype within the target market, there are better ways to sell a product than relying on boring archetypes. Advertising in the past has focused on men as rude and unintelligent neanderthals who only care about money and sex, while women are frequently portrayed as perky, over-scheduled wonder moms schlepping kids to soccer practice in ugly minivans. Relying on these tired stereotypes is ceasing to be effective. Women and men alike appreciate advertisements that tell a story, or feature something unexpected. Moore describes how advertising focused on feelings is rarely targeted at men, yet men can often be reached by focusing on inward desires and feelings such as self-driven success and love of family.
The boundaries forÂ gender marketing should be based on common sense and sensible research. A quality advertiser will carefully gather data concerning the preferences of their target consumer, and keep track of who is buying their product. They will have focus groups review their advertisements before releasing them to the general public, so that the pitfalls of gender marketing can be avoided.
Reference: Moore, Rodney J. “He Said, She Said: Marketing to the Sexes.” February 2008. Dynamic Graphics Magazine.Â .